Switzerland 2021

Wednesday August 18, 2021

Friday August 20, 2021
Grand Saint Bernard

Saturday August 21, 2021
Lac du Vieux Emosson

Overnight in the Geneva Hotel Astoria, guy in the next room made phone or zoom calls until 2am, I am guessing to work in the US but no clue, couldn't understand anything they said.
I managed to get a couple hours of sleep eventually.
Geneva was overcast, not the nice weather I had envisioned given the forecast.

I bought my Swiss half fare card for 120chf at the Geneva train station.
The card lasts a month, and it pays for itself in as little as one day on highest lifts in the Alps.
I've used the Swiss rail app on my iphone for all my Swiss trips, but I've never purchased train or bus tickets with the app.
This trip I figured out how to tell the app that I had a half fare card, so it would always purchase half fare for me.
Buying train and bus tickets on my iphone was so fast and easy...
I cannot imagine trying to do a solo trip (or any trip at this point) without an iphone...
I needed to use google maps to navigate Martigny even though I've been here twice before.
No harm in using an app...

On previous trips I'd used MotionX GPS to create gpx tracks.
However the app hadn't seemed to work in over a year, I couldn't save anything.
I finally broke down and installed Strava and tested it shortly before I left.. easy peasy.
The only gap I've found in Strava - it doesn't seem to tell you your current elevation or position anywhere unless determine it yourself looking at a your position on a map.
This means without cell service you can't figure out much of anything.

The other key app I used this trip is SwissTopo, perfect maps of Switzerland, but without gps support.
I used Strava maps to figure out where I was and my elevation, then I used SwissTopo to figure out what I was looking at.

When I was in Switzerland in 2017 I understood the ticket agent to say that my bike could use my half fare card.
I didn't know how to buy a ticket for my bike using the app, and I'd need to do that for a few of my rides.
Not a problem I needed to solve until Monday ...

Dunkin (no Donuts, just Dunkin) is new to the Genava train station since 2017 but I didn't try it...
Wanted a Burger King greasebomb US breakfast at the train station since I'm not likely to see anything similar for weeks, crushed to see the sign saying they open at 11, settled for pian chocolat and coke instead..
Helped a single fairly lost American guy (sf giants hat, i called him out amd told him i was hmb) figure out which train to Wengen (it was right on his ticket, he was pretty lost)
Caught the 811am train from Geneva to Martigny

08:58 Switzerland time 00:58 California time

Lake Geneva

09:13 Switzerland time 01:13 California time

Montreaux train station - "THE FREDDIE MERCURY" (behind the light pole)

Sat with American tour group on the train (actually they sat around me, they got off in Montreux)
A group of 3 guys and 3 gals got on the train in Lausanne in full mounteering gear, i asked and they were headed to - Weissmiess near Saas Fee (and getting an insanely late start, they should be summiting or finished by the time they got started)

09:36 Switzerland time 01:36 California time

Sun started shining as I approached the Rhone valley which made me very happy

09:49 Switzerland time 01:49 California time

Arrived Martigny train station at 942am
Since my hotel is about a 10+ minute walk in the wrong direction from the bike shop, for the sake of speed I put my backpack in locker 25 and started walking the 1.4 km from the train station to CrossRoad Cycles to get my bike.

10:00 Switzerland time 02:00 California time

Walking east from the Martigny train station to my bike shop.

I'm turning left at the circle into Zones industrielles

Had the bike shop install my pedals and seat
My size 58 Cervélo has electronic SRAM Red derailleurs, they gave me a usb charger for the batteries.
I've been skeptical of electronic derailleurs, but this thing quickly proved to be a sweet ride.

I started biking up St Bernard Pass at about 1030am.
A long ride and much later than I normally start, but with good weather I shouldn't have any problems.


I briefly worried about finding the route before realizing this was a highway, probably the busiest road I've ever biked and nearly all the traffic is headed the same way I am.

I tried to get a snack and a drink at the Coop on the way out of Martigny, but that Coop was for home repair only and had no groceries.
I made the mistake of leaving Martigny without any water in my backpack
I figured I'd find water or a place to buy a coke quickly along the way.
This did not pan out, I pedaled several kilometers up a slight incline with no water...

11:58 Switzerland time 03:58 California time

I finally found a place to buy a snack and a drink in Orsières

12:23 Switzerland time 04:23 California time

12:47 Switzerland time 04:47 California time

13:17 Switzerland time 05:17 California time

13:40 Switzerland time 05:40 California time

13:41 Switzerland time 05:41 California time

13:46 Switzerland time 05:46 California time

Once I got to the start of the tunnel it got much less scenic...
On the other hand now I knew how much longer I'd be climbing...

14:14 Switzerland time 06:14 California time

14:16 Switzerland time 06:16 California time

I got a leg cramp when it started to get a little steeper after the road left the tunnel but eased off and it went away...

14:33 Switzerland time 06:33 California time

14:39 Switzerland time 06:39 California time

I was making my way up the mountain, careful to stay out of the way too busy road.
At one point I heard a roar, looked up to see a two cars across as someone was passing downhill at high speed, and they were going to pass by me going the opposite direction very quickly, then they'd be gone.
It was an interesting split second as they roared past.

15:06 Switzerland time 07:06 California time

15:07 Switzerland time 07:07 California time

15:26 Switzerland time 07:26 California time

15:38 Switzerland time 07:38 California time

Looking toward the Italian border

15:39 Switzerland time 07:39 California time

15:39 Switzerland time 07:39 California time

15:46 Switzerland time 07:46 California time

15:47 Switzerland time 07:47 California time

15:47 Switzerland time 07:47 California time

PANO - scroll right

I made it!
This was the most famous, most crowded and possibly last scenic Alp I've climbed.

Normally I'd want to have lunch on top of the Col.
But I'd gotten such a late start it was now 4pm...
Before I could relax, I still had to:
1. ride 41km down back to Martigny
2. check in to my hotel
3. ditch my bike at the hotel somewhere
4. walk 10 minutes back to the train station
5. lug my backpack back to the hotel
6. find a place to eat.

So I started the long, long ride downhill back to Martigny...

17:01 Switzerland time 09:01 California time

Sembrancher with Vollèges and Verbier in the background

I've spent an hour (with a break) coming downhill and I'm not done yet...

17:27 Switzerland time 09:27 California time

After almost 90 minutes of cycling downhill (including a break) I can see the sign for Hotel Alpes & Rhône, I'm nearly home!

I checked in and asked where I could store my bike.
The manager showed me a ski / bike storage room around the corner with a window facing the street.
I asked if I could store the bike somewhere that wasn't visible from the street.
She assured me that in Switzerland it is safe, everyone has everything they need and nobody would think of stealing my bike, just like in Florida on TV.
I assured her that Florida is nothing like she sees on TV.
I asked about a place to eat, she said I'd find plenty of options on Avenue de la Gare (road to the train station, I eventually learned most towns in Switzerland have a street with this name).
She was right, there's a huge pedestrian square with several restaurants and several bars.
I'd been here a few times before in 2014 and 2017 but I wasn't focused on fine dining then...
I am now :)

I then
4. walked 10 minutes back to the train station
5. lugged my backpack from locker 25 back to the hotel
6. found a place to eat - Steak House Martigny Chez Steve et Arnaud

19:04 Switzerland time 11:04 California time

I started with a Lynx Movement Session IPA. 
It was their first IPA attempt, and it showed.
Lesson learned - stick with local styles of beer.

La Salade Frenchy
Hot goat cheese with local honey and camembert on toast - corn - carrots
It was an insane amount of cheese, it made me nearly gag.

19:19 Switzerland time 11:19 California time

The Bonnie and Clyde
kangaroo and beef with basmati rice, vegetables and house sauce
The house sauce was the only real flavor.
I wasn't sure which was supposed to be the kangaroo and which was supposed to be the beef, one was ok but one was somewhat tough.
The restaurant filled up rather quickly as I was leaving, everyone else ordered burgers.
Now I know...

After dinner I headed to the quicky mart at the train station again to get drinks and snacks for the room since everywhere else is closed by now, then gelato.

Later I sent texted some pictures to the guys..

22:07 Europe time 13:07 California time
Ray: Stunning!

22:22 Europe time 13:22 California time
Kent: Dusty, you are on it!  A pass on first full day!
Weissmeiss is peak to right of lagginhorn when looking from saas fee
Kent:  It's one of the easiest 4K mountains, but was too dangerous to climb last time I was there
Kent:  Big hanging blocks of snow about to fall right above route path

22:45 Europe time 13:45 California time
Paul: Jesus, I am so out of touch
Paul: Because I was not receiving texts I thought Dusty was flying to Zurich/Geneva Thursday evening/Friday morning
Paul: I even tracked "his" flight to Zurich today
Paul: The new texts that flooded In had me so confused until I rechecked his (marvelously organized) itinerary

22:49 Europe time 13:49 California time
Dusty: My flight ended up avoiding Greenland completely, while the original plan showed us going over the middle..
Dusty: we arrived a little early...
Dusty: i assume winds were faster where we flew?

22:51 Europe time 13:51 California time
Paul: I saw the route last night also veered south of Greenland
Paul: Avoiding Danish terrorist SAMs I'm sure

22:52 Europe time 13:52 California time
Dusty: Rained for the first time in recorded history somewhere in Greenland that presumably is normally much colder....

22:58 Europe time 13:58 California time
Dusty: I did have a reasonably productive first 24h in Switzerland...
Dusty: I've been waiting years to do that climb from Aosta since the Italian side is supposed to be much prettier..
Dusty: I was in an open sided tunnel for 6km prior to the junction of the actual tunnel and road to Col..
Dusty:  I've got 2 more climbs out of Obergoms that are in the top 20 highest, the rest are in the top 53, I've targeted nearly every interesting climb I could find in Switzerland..
Dusty: I'm hoping for epic (or any) view of mt Blanc tomorrow....

22:58 Europe time 13:58 California time
Jed: A summit weather station
Jed: They hadn't seen extended rain - ever

22:59 Europe time 13:59 California time
Dusty: Yeah but global warming will fix that right up, the dead polar bears out front shoulda told ya

22:59 Europe time 13:59 California time
Paul: Time to invest in some real estate

23:01 Europe time 14:01 California time
Jed: I hear farm land in Arizona is a good deal

23:01 Europe time 14:01 California time
Dusty: I'm not buying in Kansas
Dusty:  Or Peoria..
Dusty: ( you have to read this, you just can't make this crap up)


As I was lying in bed at around 11pm eating paprika chips, drinking beer, watching tv, and trying to fall asleep, I realized that my throat swelled up like a chipmunk rather quickly.
If you saw me walking down the street, you'd ask what on earth was wrong with me..
It didn't interrupt breathing but I was very concerned, they tell you to dial 911 when this crap happens....
I assumed it was the paprika chips i had just scarfed down,
I googled 'alergy' and 'paprika', and yeah, you can be alergic to paprika.
I found 4 expired benadryl in my drug cache and took two of them.
Benadryl brought down the swelling dramatically in about 15 minutes.
That was more excitement than I needed.
I managed to fall asleep eventually.

Wednesday August 18, 2021

Friday August 20, 2021
Grand Saint Bernard

Saturday August 21, 2021
Lac du Vieux Emosson